This article first appeared in The Washington Informer on May 9, 2019
One of D.C.’s most tireless advocates for the global promotion of Black heritage and culture was recently honored by the National Parks Conservation Association for her diligence in protecting and enhancing the nation’s parks.
Sylvia Cyrus, executive director of the D.C.-based Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), along with two other champions of the National Park Service — former National Park Service Deputy Director Denis Galvin and renowned nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen — were honored April 3 by the National Parks Conservation Association at its centennial year “Salute to the Parks” celebration at the National Building Museum in northwest D.C.
“Sylvia’s passion for protecting and preserving the African-American experience and stewardship for national parks is awe-inspiring,” said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association. “From preserving a critical chapter in the civil rights movement with the designation of Birmingham, to illuminating important stories of American industry, labor, urban planning and the first African-American union at Pullman, Sylvia’s efforts to honor and engage all of our nation’s people will have a lasting impact on our National Park System for generations to come.”
Cyrus received the Centennial Leadership Award for her dedicated service. Under her leadership, ASALH supported NPCA’s work on campaigns to create two national park sites dedicated to telling the important stories of the first African-American labor union and the struggle for Civil Rights with Pullman National Monument in Chicago and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Most importantly, Cyrus helped guide the National Park Service in their efforts to rehabilitate and reopen the Carter G. Woodson home in D.C., where Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” spent a substantial amount of time researching, documenting and distributing information on African-American history and achievements.